Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Minnesota Guide

Meet Roxanne! She's a bird hunter, no doubt! And she has a fine young Wirehair (Jetta). We had a nice walk this morning with 10 flushes and 2 in the bag (with Dennis, it was 15 flushes and 4 in the bag), with retrieves by both Ace and Jetta. Perfect weather and a good population of birds makes for a great hunt.

Pheasant Opportunity

"Hey, boss, I know there's another one out there!"
As I was departing North Dakota, I talked to the outfitter who arranged the land for me to hunt.  I do pay a trespass fee per day to hunt more land than I can walk.  In addition, there are thousands of acres of Private land open to hunters (PLOTS) in this area with great habitat.  As I wrote before, the birds are so plentiful all the hunting until now has produced a negligible reduction in numbers- I have the video to prove it.  There are vast fields of sunflowers and corn sill standing, and when those come down thousands of roosters will be looking for CRP and shelter, so the hunt-able numbers will climb even more. Most of this guy's land has ditches, CRP or treelines for shelter for the birds. His customer numbers are way down this year for whatever reason- the economy?- and he has many days in November available.  I stayed in a motel and just hunted the land, but he may have lodging available, depending on the dates.  All at a reasonable fee, in my opinion.  I can feel confident in recommending this outfit since I have had good results over the years.  (Disclaimer: You may have to walk a long ways and get tired.  You may have to actually spend a lot of time in the field every day.  You may get cold.  You may get hot.  You may get sunburned, windburned, sore feet, tired legs, hungry.  You may miss birds.  Your dogs may act stupid.  YOU may act stupid.  You will have a good time.  That's why they call it hunting.)

Rockin' Rooster Outfitters- 701-209-0220/ 701-209-0170- Jim

Minnesota Grouse Country

Randy and Ace in Minnesota Grouse Country
Talk about beautiful habitat!  Although "the score does not reflect the closeness of the game" (Randy and Ace-0, Birds- 7), we had a blast!  Our guide knows the area and introduced us to some local hunters, too. The trails are numerous, the leaves are down and the birds are here.  Today, we hope to get our feet on the ground and harvest a few thunder chickens.

Ace had an issue with range, as I knew he would.  By the end of the day, however, he was hunting much closer for me and I think that will carry over to today and the rest of the week.  Can't wait!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Hunt. Different Bird.

After an easy day's drive, we made it to the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.  I thought Wisconsin was way up there!  This is Ruffed Grouse country- exceptional. My local guide hunts with a 2 year old Wirehair and invited me through my friend, Glen (she is a relative of his).  She has been grouse hunting these trails  with her dog and having a great time- shooting birds and letting her dog help her do it.  It sounds to me like she's already got this thing down.  As any grouse hunter will tell you, "If you are putting them in the bag, you are doing it right!"

Ruffed Grouse are the absolute KING of game birds.  To my mind, they are the most difficult to hunt- for the hunter and the dog!  They are widely acknowledged to be the tastiest wild bird on the table, as well.  A good grouse dog is a rarity.  He has to have an exceptional nose, hunt relatively close, lock up on the faintest scent and be a deliberate and thoughtful dog.  I've seen a few and I even owned one many years ago.

Today, will be a proverbial "goat rope" with my dogs.  They've been hunting wide open land, searching for a bird that runs.  250 yard casts were not unheard of by my Ace dog.  Now, I'm asking them to do the opposite- hunt close and very carefully.  Rarely can a dog make that adjustment on their own and it may take a half-day to get them calmed down. But, I sense victory in the wind.  I wonder if this motel has a grill.....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What a day!

I guess the birds needed to feed after being holed up for 2 days with the bad weather. They are all over the roads and ditches and feeding in the wheat fields.

Ace and I hunted some tree rows alongside a wheat field. Public land. I didn't expect much until he locked up! It was a rooster- and a clean kill. After the retrieve, I took a look at him and he had a load of porcupine quills in his face! Poor guy never slowed down and I don't know how long he had them. It could have been 20 minutes. He's one tough, bird hunting son-of-a-gun, that's for sure.

Staying in Mott ND to hunt?

This place is set up for the bird hunter. Clean, warm, bird-cleaning rooms (inside and out) and only $35/night (plus 6.5% tax). This was a pleasant surprise! Make reservations early for next year- the first 2 weeks are filling fast. My recommendation is to come after that anyway. Fewer hunters and just as many birds. I get eager, too, but you won't notice any decline in bird numbers. There are so many here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nasty Weather

video
Yeah, it's a bad one today.  Yesterday was bad, too, and I found the birds in any thick cover there was, in the lee of the hill.  If it is even just a roll in the land, they will be on the downwind side of that.  The ones I found were bunched together and came up in waves.  I think today is a drive around and look type of day.  I may drive over to Golva, ND and check in on a friend over there.  UGLY!  The good news is that tomorrow, it will back up to 40 deg. and the wind will settle down. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thirty Seven Degrees and 25-40mph winds!

This is really at the limit of my comfort level, but  I didn't come out here to watch TV.  And, my dogs didn't ride 2000 miles to stay in the trailer.  They are saying this is the "Storm of the Century"- they haven't seen winds and power like this for 70 years.  So what, it looks to me like they will be in the windrows and ditches and will hold tight for my pups. 

Video of Ace working yesterday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

She did it!

8 mos.old.   Might possibly keep her.

Small Towns

Standard chamber of Commerce sign for this very pleasant town. Read the small sign over the blue one. I love small towns.....everyone is guessing who the grumps are!

Rain Today

It's always sporting when the rain shows up. These roads can turn into snot-covered cow trails with a heavy mist. Some of the best hunting is off the beaten path, too. Well, farmer friends with big tractors are a good thing......

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cap has a Walkabout

So, I had my limit. All the dogs had run and now it was time for Cap. He's 5 1/2 months old and eager.  We started into the wind, up a fence line, daylight, sunny and him with a tracking collar (just to be safe). We worked along the line may 200 yds when he bumped a big rooster and chased it. I even have a movie of that. He came back and started working 30 yds in front of me- into the wind- perfect!  Then, he went over a rise and I was alone. I checked the Garmin and couldn't believe it! He was 300 yds away and going farther!  At 600 yds I became concerned and at .65 miles I really started blowing the whistle!  Finally, he turned and got 300 yds from me but then he was at 800 yds and moving west. Then 700 yards and moving north.  Finally, he turned again and  headed east, but still 750 yds out. I crested a rise in the wheat field and saw that he was following a ditch- if it was him. My mind started telling me I was following his tracker after he'd been killed by a wolf and the bitch was carrying his body back to the den for the pups. I crested another rise and realized we'd gone in a complete circle back to the truck.  As I got to the trailer, the little butthole leaned out of his open box and woofed at me!  I have never seen any dog run like that- ever!  Wait!  Yes I have.  His daddy, Ace.  When we were here in ND, that bonehead took off and I watched him crest hills on the horizon- I remember now.  Puzzle solved.  It's genetics! 

It doesn't take long....

When experience is on the ground! Go Bo- 12 1/2 years and you still got it!

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Bad Year

Only saw 200 roosters heading to hunt this morning. Looks lean (not!). Biggest problem is keeping windshield intact! Hooah!

Ready to Hunt

With the time  change and my usual get up time of 0500, here I sit on the third cup of Joe at 0449!  It's still blacker than six feet up an elephant's....(sorry, sometimes I slip back into the Navy jargon)......well, it's still dark.  I haven't heard a peep out of the dogs, yet.  I'm almost certain they are awake and listening with an ear cocked at the door of the trailer.

I'm using my Jones trailer this trip, just to make things easier.  With the storage and water and tie outs, it makes taking care of 4-6 dogs quick and easy.  Occasionally, it is tough to maneuver on a two-track in certain portions of the country, but it's worth the effort to give the dogs the comfort and protection of the Jones.  I'm glad I went with the "top of the line".  They ain't cheap (as my daddy used to say), but I don't mind spending for quality.

This is Cap's (Brit/M) first hunt and he's travelling well.  I really want to capture his first encounter with a pheasant  on video.  I bought a small handheld HD video camera to record as much as I can without totally giving my time over to just filming.  As a solo hunter, it's going to be juggling act!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hunting Country

You know you're getting close to hunting country when the local walmart carries dry ice, 3" 20 ga shells and all the men are wearing orange hats! Gotta love the Dakotas!

Norske Nook Osseo WI

Best pie and comfort food on the planet. On I-90 east of Minneapolis. I hit this place going to WI and MN for Ruffed Grouse, ND and SD for Pheasant and Huns. It's right at 1000 miles from the farm.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Looking Forward

I am already looking forward to the "Haskell burger" that I am going to get at the Habitat in Frankfort, South Dakota. It is worth the visit!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Safety and the Tracker

Folks, I do take to the field alone. Probably, that is not the optimum thing, and I must admit, I do enjoy a hunting partner on occasion.  For purely safety reasons, hunting alone is not a good idea.  Old men (and women) can step in holes, twist ankles, get slapped in the face with branches, break legs, etc.  I hunt with a FindMeSpot tracker on me at all times.  I convinced my wife, the financier, to get me one for my birthday (conveniently located on September 3) along with the tracking option.  Now, every year, that is my birthday present.  It's my "Help, I've fallen and can't get up!" button. 

I use it for checking in and out every day- it will send messages (email or text) to ten addresses- for marking significant spots and as a backup for getting stuck or, God forbid, seriously hurt.  When you hit the Help Button, those ten addresses get a HELP! notification (it must be pre-written, so have a plan) and a link to a GPS location on Google Maps.  I use this for getting seriously stuck or any other NON-life threatening situation. (Haven't needed it yet- but we have a plan.)  For life threatening problems- hit 911.  That will bypass the ten addresses and go directly to the nearest rescue facility. (I tell folks, if you hit that one, you will hear the chopper blades coming over the hill shortly!) 

All this is worldwide and not dependent on cell coverage.  (Coverage map available.)

I recently upgraded to the newer model and the transition was easy.  New model is smaller with one more mode for comm. 

Get and keep peace of mind.  Carry this tool with you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Next Hunt

 I finally nailed down the dates of my next hunt.  I'll leave out of here 22 Oct and be on the ground in or near Regent, ND the morning of 24 Oct.  Fair warning to the pheasant and Huns- I know where you are!  It will be a little different this year as the old ball and chain will join me for a few days.  I'm really looking forward to it, however.  The bird population is huge, again, and I'm familiar with all the usual hot spots.  I think it will be an enjoyable experience for her....
The Old Ball and Chain